The Arabian Peninsula was not characterized by the drought as it does today. The rains
were an important factor in shaping the nature of the ground. The lakes had covered parts
of the Arabian Peninsula on the western edge of the Empty Quarter, before the period
(35000 to 17000 years ago), when mammals and livestock multiplied, fed in the land of
green grass on the lakes. As characterized by the six thousand years of drier conditions,
although the Arabian Peninsula has experienced periods of rain but it was marked by the
drought throughout. These changes have affected the amount of rainfall in the past as a
principle impact on the life of the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula, which led to the
search for water resources. The ancient civilizations concerned itself not only for the
establishment of channels for water wells, create ponds, reservoirs, but built dams on the
river valleys. As a result of the need to build dams in the early Islamic periods, several old
dams were built in the Arabian Peninsula in various areas. The construction of dams has
been developed in the era of Islam, as dams were built in the straits of flooding valleys to
reserve water for use for agriculture, irrigation, and to increase the groundwater wells or to
reduce the flooding that threatened people's lives and their homes, in general. .
Dams commonly were built by big uncut stones. They were built in pecking order shape
such that the base of the dam is larger than its top where its reclining front face should be
graduated in front of reserved water. The dams were also covered with solid thick layer of
plaster. Dams of great heights had their walls reinforced with fine rubble while big stone
slabs were added to their front and tops. Some of these dams have draining outlets in
addition to channels that carried water to agriculture lands. The dams were of varying
height, length, width and thickness in accordance with the nature of the land as well as the
amount of the restrained water. These dams in various sizes and method of construction are
a witness to the civilization created by the first Muslim in the architecture.
Some of the most important dams in the Arabian Peninsula are:
It is located in the south-east of Al Taif on Thamalah Valley at a distance of 35 km from Al
Taif town. It is an ancient heritage bridge and likely to have been built in the period prior to
the emergency of Islam. This dam is characterized by its enormity which was built of huge
rectangular blocks of stones fitted together. It is approximately 212 meters in length, width
10 meters, and attitude 10.8 meters.
It is located 140 km away in the south-east of Al Taif at Bani Al Harith Land in Dama Valley.
They built this structure using big and local red rocks arranged in long rows. The dam was
made of four zigzag walls and its length reaches 11.30 meters, width 2 meters and its height
is 4 meters. It has terraced tops at the south-eastern side. Also it has un-dated inscription
over one of the high rocks.
It is located in the Grygeer Valley, which is integrated the building except for some rocks of
the divergent below. This dam is considered to be unique in its design, and building with its
flat top surface serving as flooding outlet and discharge channel in its base. Its length is
about 37 meters, with 2 meters width and 18 meters height.
Al Lusb Dam:
It is located to the east of the highway approximately 10 km away from Waddi Ardah. It
represents a thick built wall. It is built over a rocky protrusion in the middle of a narrow
channel of five meters width. It is completely ruined in the middle and remains only a small
part of it on the eastern side. The remaining antiquities exhibit that the height of the dam of
must have been over 50 meters. Along its neighborhood are the remains of abandoned
houses. Pottery b have bits ha been found in the sites which are dating back to the pre-
This dam is located about seven kilometers away from Al Taif. It built of trimmed square-
shaped stones in the form of two parallel walls covered by sand and lime mortar. Its length
when built was 78.9 meters, width 9.60 meters and 9 meters in height at its maximum
altitude in it is middle.
It is located in the Seesid Valley at the north-east of Al Taif and it is built of stones as large
rectangular building blocks built horizontally, with a length of (58) m long and (4.10) meters
high (8.5) meters, the dam is popular because it was built in the era of Umayyad Caliph
Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan, as it is found by the inscription dating back to the year (58 H) (677-
678 CE) according to which the text of the inscription read as follows
This dam is for Abdullah Muawiya
Emir of the believers built by Abdullah Bin Saqar
In the name of the God in the fifty-eight years
God forgive Abdullah Muawiya
Emir of the believers. May God secure and support him and the believers profit
Wrote Omer Bin Al Habab
Al Agrab Dam:
This dam was established on Al Agrab Valley, approximately twenty kilometers in the
northern-east of Al Taif city. It is one of the two-paralleled walls of dam stuffed with rubble
of pebbles. It is distinguished by existence of an outlet for organizing water flow from the
middle. Its length reaches 113 meters and the width 5 meters. The dam is in a good
condition. Two kilometers on its north west side is an undated inscription. Perhaps the
inscription is related to this dam considering that there were no suitable stones for
inscription near the dam.
Al Haseed Dam:
It is located 14 kilometers from Khaibar Municipality over a branch of Ghars Valley. Its
length reaches 60 meters, and its lowest height 6 meters. Built by using stone blocks from Al
Hurah site and they are graded on two sides. Its front façade is divided in two parts. The
walls on top are heightened on either side to provide a passage across the dame and in the
middle at the bottom is an arched hole, a passage to control the water drainage.
Al Mashquq Dam:
It is an ancient dam in Khyber located to the east of Al Shareef and north of Khyber
Municipality. The dam was built on one of the valleys of Shaib Halhal's branches. Its length
reaches 100 meters. The plaster that was covering the dam wall has been peeled. The
western façade of the dam is graded. At its southern end there are remains of a draining hole
or a channel. As a result of the height of slit in time, the dam became useless for stocking big
stock of water.
Al Qusaibah Dam:
It is also called Sa'd Al Bent (The Girl Dam) which was constructed over the narrow stream of
Al Gharas Valley in Hura't Khyber, 30 kilometers to the southeast of Khyber city. It is
considered to be one of the largest and ancient heritage dams in the Kingdom. The original
length of it was around 205 meters. But only 170 meters it remains from its original length. Its
height, from the bottom of the valley reaches approximately to 30 meters. The dam is built in
graded-shape and graded on its two sides. A layer of mortar is added to the side that
paralleled to the water reservoir. The dam had experienced several kinds of ravages and
ruins and hence some of its utilities have disappeared. It appears that the dam was having a
large lake on its backside, which resulted in heightening water level at Hura't Khyber in
addition to reclaiming agricultural lands for irrigation as well as increasing their fertility.
Al Zaidiah Dam:
It is considered as one of the smallest dams in Khyber but it is an important one. Built on Al
Zaidiah Valley strait at the northeast of Khyber, the approximate length is about 25 meters. Its
nearest height is 4 meters and thickness of its wall is about 8 meters. The dam’s basin is
covered with mud. The importance of the dam, in addition to reserving flood water for
agriculture, comes from the inscriptions that are found at the northern bank of the valley which
oversees the dam. Date of these inscriptions could be dated back to the first Hijiri century.
Dam of Ranon'a Valley:
The dam is attributed to Abdullah Bin Amr Bin Omer Bin Othman Bin Afan (died in Egypt in
96 Hijri year), the dam is located over Ranon'a Valley to the south of Qab'a scheme (Al
Hijir'a Quarter). The dam extends from east to west along the course of the valley. The
valley is consisting of three related dams with total of their length reaching to 83.5 meters.
And the largest dam in the main body is located to the west, the length of its side is
amounting 47 meters and its width 17.70 meters. The facade of the dam has a drainage hole
on the eastern side. There is an inscription at the rock façade in the eastern side in a
poetical text form indicates to the dam. The history of the dam is estimated between the
end of first century and the beginning of the second century of Hijri era.
Muawiya Dam in Al Khang Valley:
It is located on Al Khang Valley to the east of city Al Madinah Al Monawarah 15 km to the
east of Al A'qoul village. The length of the dam is about 30 meters. Its height from the
bottom of the valley until the level of the surrounding area is about 20 meters. The width of
dam wall at the base is about 10 meters. The dam has experienced, in it is midpoint, a
collapse as a result to earthquake that struck the region over the centuries addition to the
flash floods in the narrow corridor of the valley. And in the vicinity of the dam there is
another dam more longer and lower height which has been built to reserve more water
from the floods that floods from the lake of the first dam. Its foundation stone is found in
the top on which written are the names of Muawiya bin Abi Sufyan and the names of those
who have under taken the construction of the dam and their supervisors.
One of the three remaining dams in Mecca built by Al Hajjaj bin Yusuf Althagqafi in the years
73 to 74 Hijri in the north of Al Muaisam on the road of Al Esailah Valley. The length of the
dam reaches 140 meters; it is width reaches 6 meters at the top with hierarchy façade, the
dam is divided into five layers. Seen on its left side for the people arriving from Makkah, the
Islamic inscriptions over the rocks of the two other facades which belong to the Umayyad
Al Madeeq Dam:
It is located near to the Najran Valley which is representing modern irrigation system to
divert water from flooding the fields and orchards that are located to the east of the valley's
mouth in the form of water channels carved into the rock into a depth of two meters and 90
cm width length through 125 meters. Some constructions related to irrigation system are
found, in which the plaster might have been used as part of the gate to control the water.
Wadi Numar Dam:
It is located over one of the sloped defiles of Numar Valley on the western edge of Riyadh
city. Its length reaches 34.40 meters and the thick of the wall at the bases reaches 6.2
meters, while its height reaches 5.85 meters. It has arched base pillar to ease water flow
that comes from the top. The dam built by trimmed stones. But the dam has collapsed from
the waist to the lack of maintenance.
Wadi Hagar Dam:
It is located at Um Hazm within the northern municipality. It is comprised of two stone walls
spread out from the south-east to the north-west with a length of 229 meters,
approximately two meters width and 1.10 meters height. The dam contains flood outlets
during water momentum. A large quantity of clay fraction of the green color are found,
which dates back to the early Islamic period.
Al Subeen Dam:
It is located on Rawdat Sidair, it is also called Al Subeen Dam because of its (seventy sluices),
the dam is completely destroyed and only fifty sluices remain. It was built on Sidair Valley
and forms a series of packed stones put over each other in the form of building blocks. The
total length of the dam from the north to the south is 233 meters and the height is around
two to three meters and thickness ranges between 80 to 120 cm. The dam is one of the
most ancient dams in Najd which is still found in good situation.
Al Rowaidah Dam:
It is located at the south of Al Rowaidah in Al Majmah Municipality, which was built of
trimmed stones. Its stones lined over some building blocks in regular course. Built on the
stream bed of Al Rowaidah and Al Khais Valley, the dam extends from south to north built of
9 building blocks. The length of the dam reaches about 260 meters. There are four sluices
and its width approximately reaches 3 meters. There are two rows of stones filled up in-